Blogging, one of the oldest forms of social media, has been around since the mid-1990s. My own experience of the power of blogging was in 2006 when I started blogging, sharing thoughts and updates to an audience of sports professionals and volunteers. Within twelve months we saw a positive turnaround in our relationships with our partners, with the blog playing a key role in achieving this.
Back in November 2006, the blog was basically an email newsletter copied into a blog format. It simply reported the facts, rather than provided insight or opinion. To be honest, although the blog improved over the two-year period it ran for, it was still very fact led.
Looking back at this blog there are lots that make me cringe, but it also got a lot right. So, what “Do’s” and “Don’ts” would I recommend to my 11 years younger self for successful blog writing?
What To Do
Make It Personal
I often describe blogs as “pundit” moments, i.e. experts sharing their thoughts and opinions, in their own style. In October 2007, the blog had a simple transformation, it was now written from Chris the director. Chris introduced the monthly blog and each edition also featured his picture. This simple act introduced the “face of the place”, people connect with people and results of this included an increase in blog subscriptions and positive survey feedback.
However, the blog could have been more personal. Think about the expertise that you have in your organisation and how those thoughts, opinions, and ideas could be shared with your key audiences.
Don’t Forget Your Audience
Although the blog was quite formal and contain fact, one of the things the blog got right is it was written for its intended audience. One thing that my previous email newsletter experience taught me; is always think about what your intended audience is interested in. Articles that I’d painstakingly put together about people getting more active rarely got any click-throughs from emails, while those on funding opportunities were incredibly popular. Remember always to write for your audience and also use words like “you” in addressing them to make it more social.
Make It Regular
In our training at SocialB, we find many clients have dismissed the idea of blogging as “too much work”. However, blogging does need to be a regular commitment as your audience will expect your blogs to be posted on a consistent basis. At SocialB we post several times a week with a digital marketing round-ups every Friday, it’s something that we’re committed to doing because our current audience expects it and we want to provide them with relevant news and information about everything within digital marketing.
My advice would be to start small and build and expand what you’re doing when appropriate. Why not be proactive and create a blog schedule so that you can figure in major events and subjects that your blog can cover?
There was always a lot to say and each edition had the potential to be a dumping ground for content. Too much in a blog, together with lots of different topics really confuses and turns off your audience.
Thankfully in hindsight one thing I did get right was creating separate “special” blogs for key subjects. If you have too much content, consider breaking in down into separate blogs. For instance, last year I blogged about Dirk Wolbers and the amazing social media work happening at Kramp Tools. My interview with Dirk was intended to be a single blog but transformed into two as Dirk shared some great insight across many areas.
Attract And Measure
With my old blog, I hadn’t factored in search at all. Use actual keywords that your audience is searching on to attract views through search. Google Keyword Planner is still a great tool to help you discover what these are. Don’t keyword stuff your blog, but make sure you have appropriate keywords within your title, main section, and tags.
Also, don’t forget to measure. My old blog was measured on subscriptions but looking back I could have used Google Analytics to measure a range of things including:
- How many views/unique views of the blog?
- How long have users spent on the post?
- Where have the users accessed the blog from (search, email, direct etc.)?
Don’t Make Excuses
Finally, I’d encourage you to stop making excuses for not blogging. If a lack of content is a problem, be creative in how to obtain it:
- If your organisation’s experts are too busy to write blogs, why not interview them, record it and write it up?
- If you’re lacking inspiration on what subject to write about, what about using Google Alerts to update you in key areas?